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On the Stage: Julian Castro

This is the fourth article of our “On the Stage” series, where the goal is to get to know each and every single candidate vying for the chance to take on President Donald J. Trump in the 2020 election as the Democratic nominee. As the first of the Democratic debates approach, we try to understand each of the candidates and their campaigns better.

Who is Julian Castro?

Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro served as the mayor of the same city from 2009 until 2014, when he was courted by President Obama to join his administration as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He launched his presidential campaign on January 12, and would become the first Hispanic / Latino – American to become president, if elected. As a fun fact, Julian Castro has an identical twin in Congress, Joaquin Castro, the representative of the 20th congressional district of the Lone Star State.

How is Sec. Castro doing in the polls?

Julian Castro has qualified for the first set of Democratic debates by fulfilling both the polling and fundraising criteria, and will be part of the June 26 lineup. As things stand, he has a polling average of 0.5 percent, enough for the candidates currently at 11th to 16th in the middle to lower end of the race. He is tied with Senator Gillibrand of N.Y., and Governors John Hickenlooper (CO) and Jay Inslee (WA). Castro is among the top preferences of likely primary voters in California, where he is tied for the 7th spot with 1.5 percent of potential votes; in Iowa, where he places 10th with 1 percent; in Massachusetts, where he has 0.5 percent good for a shared 11th ; and in his home state of Texas, where he is performing best at 6th place with 4 percent of likely primary voters selecting him as their candidate of choice. He has failed to establish a presence in South Carolina and New Hampshire, though.

What are the key ideas of Julian Castro’s campaign?

Julian Castro is part of the Democratic party that’s becoming ever more progressive and moving to the left. He has many progressive stances on various issues.

On immigration. Secretary Castro supports establishing a path to citizenship for illegal aliens residing in the United States including recipients of DACA that remain. He opposes President Trump’s restrictions on immigration from Muslim countries and his desire to build a strong and secure wall on the Southern border. Instead, he wants to invest government funds into newer, more advanced security technology at the border,as well as to improve legal immigration processing facilities for migrant arrivals. He also advocates for a 21st century Marshall Plan to provide aid for the Central American countries to address poverty and violence which forces immigrants to flock to America for a hope of a better, safer future. Castro also wants to transfer the duties of drug trafficking and anti-terrorism monitoring from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and transfer these to the Department of Homeland Security, reconstituting ICE to be dedicated to strictly immigration and customs affairs.

On gun rights. Julian Castro wants a ban on all assault weapons sales and to severely limit high-capacity magazine sales. He pushes for universal background checks on all gun sales, and wants to close “gun show loopholes”.

On law and order. Castro has been pushing for police reform plan that demilitarizes police and dissuades stop-and-frisk situations, aiming to limit potentially deadly police violence and abuse.

On healthcare. Like many Democrats, Castro is a proponent of Medicare for All, a single-payer healthcare system, and he wants this system to be funded by raising taxes on corporations and the uppermost echelons of American society, even suggesting higher taxes on the top 0.05 percent.

On education. Castro is an advocate of universal pre-kindergarten education in all states funded by federal grants to states and localities. In fact, as San Antonio mayor, he raised taxes by an eighth of a cent to establish a citywide program guaranteeing pre-K education. With regard to higher education, he supports making public college tuition-free and debt-free, as well as expanding technical-vocational training programs to all citizens. 

On other issues. As expected, Julian Castro is socially-liberal as a pro-choice politician, supporting legalized abortion even after 20 weeks; protecting the legal rights of LGBTQ+ individuals to marry; allowing transgenders to serve in the U.S. military. On foreign policy, he believes in renegotiating previous trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and for pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, although not at the speed and abruptness that President Trump called for.

How does he deal with President Trump?

Julian Castro has been a vocal critic of the President. In his recent town hall with Fox News, he called POTUS a failure on the border crisis, and stated that there is a lot of cleaning up to do once Trump is out of the White House. Previously, he’s also called for the President’s impeachment, sentiment that is growing in popularity among Democrats.

The Castro Campaign Moving Forward

As a progressive, Julian Castro shares a lot of similar beliefs and policies with the rest of the crowded Democratic presidential field. He does not have specific issues where he stands out among the rest. His status as the only Hispanic-American running might help him build up a loyal base as the campaign rolls on, and this is what he should capitalize on as he is truly unique in this regard. If he wants to become a legitimate contender for the Democratic nomination, he has to extend and even improve his current status in his home state of Texas where he is currently sixth to other states, especially the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire where he has much work left to do.

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Jose Montemayor

J.C.R.M is a Filipino citizen and resident who follows American and International news on politics and foreign affairs.

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